Knight Prototype Fund invests in 20 new projects focused on data-driven storytelling and community problem-solving – Knight Foundation

Knight Prototype Fund invests in 20 new projects focused on data-driven storytelling and community problem-solving

Next Prototype Fund deadline is May 15

MIAMI – April 30, 2015 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced funding for 20 new projects through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps people explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding.

Several of the projects focus on data-driven storytelling, offering tools that allow journalists and others to unlock insights and answer questions by making data easier to find, analyze and understand. They also include projects that use information resources to solve community challenges, from a tool that opens opportunities for low-income families to participate in civic life, to a platform that addresses cyberbullying of women bloggers and publishers. Some of the projects further highlight the need for greater government transparency, offering users ways to make legislators more accountable and get to know political candidates.

Knight launched the Prototype Fund in June 2012 to invite people to experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project. Prototype Fund projects go through a six-month process that begins with a three-day course in human-centered design, facilitated by LUMA Institute. Building on that training to better develop their projects, the teams gather six months later for a demo day to share their discoveries and prototypes.

The next deadline for prototype applications is May 15, 2015.

“The Prototype Fund is designed to promote learning beyond the boundaries of a single idea or project team,” said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for media innovation, who runs the Prototype Fund. “It encourages people to share lessons and develop a better understanding of user needs and the problem they are trying to solve through a thought-provoking and collaborative process.”

The projects receiving investments in this Prototype Fund round are:

Ballot by WeVote (Project Lead: Amy Chiou; Charlotte, N.C.): Making voting easy by matching voters with candidates who share their political views through a free Web and mobile app that provides simple quizzes and surveys and uses a matching algorithm to sort candidates by compatibility.

Community Resource Aggregator by Union Capital Boston (Project lead: Laura Ballek; Boston): Developing a mobile-based loyalty program for low-income families that provides social and financial rewards in exchange for community involvement in schools, health centers and civic programs.

Culture Conversations by Dance Heritage Coalition (Project lead: Imogen Smith; San Francisco): Helping the San Francisco art community preserve digital arts criticism related to dance through a tool that will make these stories fully searchable using descriptive metadata and linking it to streaming dance videos. 2.0 The Evolving Knowledge System by Futurism (Project lead: Alexander Klokus; Brooklyn, N.Y.): Helping readers easily access a collection of top science and technology stories curated through a tool that aggregates and ranks based on source credibility, keywords and social media metrics.

KLRN Virtual Classroom by Alamo Public Telecommunications Council (Project lead: Katrina Kehoe; San Antonio, Texas): Using PBS LearningMedia and the OVEE video platform to support students who are homeschooled through a virtual classroom experience that allows them to interact with their peers online and take advantage of PBS educational resources.

Metadata Beyond the Open Graph by Contextly (Project lead: Ryan Singel; San Francisco): Developing a new kind of writing interface that helps journalists and others create stories that include additional context and descriptive metadata, so they can be found and used more easily.

A Metadata Graphing Interface by Chicago Public Media (Project leads: Matthew Green and Brendan Metzger; Chicago): Enabling content creators to provide audiences with smarter, better search results, story recommendations and the ability to explore content through an easy-to-use publishing platform.

mRelief (Project lead: Rose Afriyie; Chicago): Helping people in financial need access public assistance resources through a platform that enables them to locate and apply for benefits.

Neighborhood Drawing Tool by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Project lead: Jessie Partridge; Boston): Helping activists, planners, students, and others find information and crowdsource popular knowledge about their neighborhoods through a tool that allows them to aggregate data based on their own definition of neighborhood boundaries.

Numina by CTY (Project lead: Tara Pham; St. Louis, Mo.): Allowing cities and planning organizations to capture more accurate pedestrian and cyclist data by installing a machine learning-based sensor tool in city neighborhoods.

Open Permit by Aecosoft Corp. (Project lead: Martin Maykel; Miami): Helping citizens more easily access business permitting information by creating a platform that lets multiple jurisdictions present permit data in standard formats and that can be integrated with existing systems.

Perceptoscope (Project lead: Ben Sax; Los Angeles): Helping civic institutions like museums and historical sites present local information through augmented-reality enabled, coin-operated binoculars that provide immersive experiences in public spaces using interactive art, historical recreations and real-time data visualizations.

Playable Stories by Arizona State University New Media Innovation Lab and Center for Games and Impact (Project leads: Retha Hill, Juli James and Adam Ingram-Goble) (Tempe, Ariz.): Enabling journalists to produce interactive, mobile-ready news experiences, based on the principles of gaming and journalism, in a WordPress plugin and theme; for example, audiences will be able to interact with stories to choose sides, make decisions and see the outcomes.

Railroad Project (Project lead: Seth Forsgren; Miami Beach, Fla.): Allowing journalists, governments and the public to foster two-way communications with their audiences, through a video messaging tool that captures both sides of a conversation.

The Ripple Mapping Tool by Allied Media Projects (Project lead: Jenny Lee; Detroit): Allowing social good organizations and others to measure the outcomes of a particular event through a tool that collects information from participants on what they did or did not learn, whom they met and what, if anything, grew from the experience.

Semantic Timeline Maker by The Lens (Project lead: Abe Handler; New Orleans): Helping make sense of large amounts of data, such as emails and news articles, via a program that extracts structured facts from free text.

She said, he said by Open Media Foundation (Project lead: Leo Kacenjar; Denver): Helping citizens hold legislators more accountable through a video and audio library tool that allows users to more easily access and discover archived video recordings from U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sessions.

Troll-Busters by (Project lead: Dr. Michelle Ferrier; Athens, Ohio): Addressing cyberbullying of women bloggers and publishers through an online and mobile reporting, notification, monitoring, and rescue tool.

Unveillance (Project lead: Harlo Holmes; New York): Enabling journalists and others to uncover answers and explore data sets through a friend-to-friend file-sharing platform in which users can “drop” documents into a folder and have them quickly analyzed and explored.

Verified Pixel Project (Project lead: Samaruddin Stewart; Daly City, Calif.): Helping news organizations quickly verify photos captured by everyday people through a platform that allows automated testing of the photos through metadata and image analysis.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more visit,



Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]